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Tom MalloukStudent and MentorStudent in Lab

What is the Chemistry Major?

The Chemistry major in Penn State's Eberly College of Science is a program that is flexible enough to meet widely varied interests, while remaining firmly based on the underlying sciences of mathematics and physics.

The course requirements for the Chemistry major at Penn State include the basic three areas -- general, organic, and physical chemistry, 14 credits of associated laboratories, and 16 credits of 400-level courses, of which up to 8 credits can be undergraduate research. The 400-level credits can be selected to meet your individual interests, whether advanced organic, inorganic, analytical, or physical chemistry, biochemistry, or polymer chemistry. Other requirements include four courses in mathematics (through calculus and differential equations) and three in physics. This helps to provide you with a strong foundation for choices in such career areas as chemical physics after graduation.

Why Chemistry at Penn State?

The key point of our philosophy is to absorb undergraduates into the community of science as early as possible. We encourage you to join research groups, where you can become well acquainted with faculty members and graduate students who are already members of the scientific community. This has the advantage of allowing you to see how chemistry is practiced and to prove to yourself that you can succeed in becoming a part of it.

What Are Other Advantages?

The large size of our research-active faculty means that you have an excellent chance at finding a group if you are interested in doing research. Typically, 80-90% percent of our undergraduates do research at some time in their four years at Penn State, and many graduate with one or more publications to their credit. As a new student, you can meet faculty and visit their laboratories while taking the Freshman Seminar. You also can join peer groups as early as your freshman year and continue throughout your entire stay here.

Experiences of other sorts are encouraged by the department and college as well. A significant fraction of our undergraduates participate in the University's Cooperative Education Program, which allows you to spend two semesters working in a chemical company during your undergraduate years. This provides you with a financial boost while allowing you to gain insight into the nature of a career in the chemical industry. We also encourage you to take full advantage of semester - or year-long Education Abroad Programs. With careful planning -- even in a program as highly structured as ours -- you can spend as much as a year abroad and still graduate after four years.

What Are the Requirements for Admission into the Department and the Eberly College of Science?

In order to be eligible for entrance to the Eberly College of Science in premajor (SCIEN) status, a student must have:

1. Attained at least a 2.00 cumulative grade-point average

2. Completed MATH 140 with a grade of C or better

A student who meets the above requirements, but who has not demonstrated a comparable level of scholarship in other mathematics and science courses applicable to the programs of the college, is strongly encouraged to contact the Eberly College of Science Academic Advising Center or other appropriate advising personnel for assistance.

You are admitted to the Chemistry major after having taken chemistry (110, 112, 111, 113, and 210), and advanced calculus (140 and 141). A 2.50 grade-point average in this set of courses is required for entrance. A minimum grade of C is required in CHEM 110, 112, 111, 113, 213, 210, 212, 227, 310, 450, 452, 457, 423W or 431W or 459W, and Math 140 and 141 for graduation.

What about Advising?

Undergraduates planning to become chemistry majors, as well as those students already accepted into the major, are assigned a faculty adviser as soon as they arrive. In addition, the associate head for undergraduate education is available to advise you in unusual or emergency situations. The Freshman Seminar Program serves as an orientation opportunity during spring semester of the first year. You also are required to take a 1-credit professional orientation course (Chem 316) in your junior year, which alerts you to opportunities at Penn State as well as those after graduation.

What Career Opportunities Are Available to Me?

Students majoring in chemistry typically go on to graduate study in chemistry, medical school, to a job in a chemical industry, or to teaching at the secondary school level. Because of chemistry's wide application throughout modern technology, jobs in chemistry tend to remain available even when the economy is down. The employment record of Penn State chemistry graduates has been very good over a period of many years.

Can I Count on Financial Aid?

A number of grants, loans, work-study programs, and scholarships are available through Penn State. To learn more about what is available and how to apply, contact:

Office of Student Aid
The Pennsylvania State University
314 Shields Building
University Park, PA 16802-1220
(814)865-6301

Interested In Learning More?

If you have additional questions about the Chemistry program in Penn State's Eberly College of Science, please contact:

Undergraduate Chemistry Program
Department of Chemistry
The Pennsylvania State University
210 Whitmore Laboratory
University Park, PA 16802-6300
(814)863-8234

Student Comments

I chose Penn State and its Chemistry Program because of its reputation for teaching and cutting-edge undergraduate research. At Penn State, students not only receive a quality education but they also gain valuable experience through the department's extensive undergraduate research program.
- Dennis Gaal, Chemistry major and University Scholar

The Chemistry program at Penn State has offered me a lot of opportunities. In the classroom, the teachers generally expect more from you; however, you know you are being taught by professors who are leaders in their fields and who often go out of their way to help you outside of the classroom. Best of all, after my first year, I had the opportunity to do actual research during the summer.
- David Gutman, Chemistry major and University Scholar

At Penn State, the professors make you think in new ways. And the large classes aren't as scary as they might seem. My organic chemistry class has almost 400 students, but the professor takes what could be a tedious subject and makes the class interesting.
- Liza Rivera, Chemistry major and University Scholar

Apply to Penn State

Visit the Undergraduate Admissions site to learn how to apply to Penn State.

Admission to the Department of Chemistry

You are admitted to the Chemistry major after having taken chemistry (110, 112, 111, 113, and 210), and advanced calculus (140 and 141). A 2.50 grade-point average in this set of courses is required for entrance. A minimum grade of C is required in CHEM 110, 112, 111, 113, 213, 210, 212, 227, 310, 450, 452, 457, 423W or 431W or 459W, and Math 140 and 141 for graduation.

Financial Aid

A number of grants, loans, work-study programs, and scholarships are available through Penn State. To learn more about what is available and how to apply, contact:

Office of Student Aid
The Pennsylvania State University
314 Shields Building
University Park, PA 16802-1220
(814)865-6301